There would appear to be two camps when it comes to the Summer Holidays; those parents who L O V E them, who can’t tell you enough how much they love spending time with their children; then there are those who visibly shudder at the mention of it, and who dread six continuous weeks with their little darlings.
I’m kind-of on the fence. I DESPISE the school run, so not having to do that every morning is up there as sacrosanct. However, my children, as many children are, can be very challenging; they want constant entertainment and jeez, that can be draining. Not to mention sibling squabbling (‘he hit me first’, ‘nooooo, he hit ME’). I enjoy spending time with my children, but mostly when we’re an awesome foursome with the Big Big Man, OR when my kids just LISTEN to me.
So, if I could guarantee perfectly behaved children I would approach the holidays with not an ounce of trepidation, but this is real life and they are as human as I am, so that aint ever gonna happen.
So, I ‘get’ both sides.
That’s not to say I don’t do an inwards eye-roll at the gushers who make me feel guilty for not loving the school holidays as much as they do.
Nor is it to condone the haters: I kind of just want to tell them to suck it up and DO stuff with their kids.
Which is to say, I think the crux of a harmonious school holidays (all six weeks of it), is to be prepared.
Now, I can’t speak for parenting all children, but for my kids, the Number One Solution is to KEEP THEM BUSY. And I’m not talking about spending money – far from it, I have found that once you start throwing money at this situation, it becomes expected, and much as I would love to have the disposable incomes (or the freebies) of many well-known bloggers, I don’t.
And having been a SAHM on a budget of £0 I have learnt how to entertain my kids for pennies, which is something I still do now I actually have a disposable income (it’s still a novelty), because when you can do it for free WHY would you pay? (Hands up to being a total skinflint).
So, I find country parks are my best friend, somewhere they can run through woods either looking for Stick Man or go on a Bear Hunt, maybe there’s a stream they can dam or splash through, hopefully there’s a park where there’s also WiFi…
Playdates: there’s always going to be another Mum who needs to entertain her kids, and is happy to take her turn at tidying up the EPIC mess that kids make when unleashed in other people’s houses.
The beach: if it’s guaranteed good weather, it’s worth the trek. We’re lucky in that we only have 40mins to the nearest one, we did this on Tuesday (aka The Last Day of Summer) and the boys loved it, I only saw the Big Little Man as a distant blur on the rocks (hands-up to a very ‘laissez-faire’ approach to parenting) and the Little Little Man was happy once the beach tent went up, in, out, in, fill it with sand, out: repeat. You know it’s been a successful day when they are both sparko in the car five minutes into your journey home.
Crafting/Indoors activities: plasticine, play-doh, colouring books, painting etc I find this stuff actually works as entertainment in the holidays – if I try and do it after-school or on weekends, they’ve spent all week doing it in the classroom and they’re not interested, but when they have a break from it they actually quite enjoy it during the six weeks’ holidays.
Make the ordinary, extraordinary: we have a tent (not my choice, I am so not a happy camper), and we pitched it in the garden and had a garden sleepover with all of us. It was actually quite cool and the kids have talked about nothing else for the past five days…they’re itching to do it again. But even something as simple as making a ‘den’ out of blankets over the dining table, or having a picnic in the living-room…you can make anything fun if you ignore the crumbs.
Free activities: there will ALWAYS be something, you just need to look. For us Cardiff Museum is free and always provides an afternoon of entertainment. We visited Bristol to meet up with an ‘insta-chum’ (which is a whole other blog post – but in short, be brave, if you get on with someone online, make the jump and meet them in real life), and went to M Shed (free) – a museum about Bristol, which we all loved, the boys kicked right off when it was time to go home. Not to mention how much fun they had just chasing each other and playing hide and seek along the harbour side.
Don’t let the weather dictate: is it really the end of the world to have to wear wellies and a raincoat? Does it really hurt to strip your kids off before they get in the car to go home, or at the door as soon as you get in?
No. No. Not at all. We went to Sgwyd Gladwys in Neath today and trekked to the waterfalls. When I say we were wet to the bone by the time we got back to the car, it’s an understatement. They loved it. My hair looked like something from Hallowe’en, but hey, who cares. Nothing that a hot shower and the washing machine couldn’t rectify, and how excited were they to tell Daddy about the humongous waterfall on the way home? Very.
Lastly, embrace the tech. If there’s days when the fighting and tempers and your own sanity is on a knife edge, use the iPad, put a DVD on, let them watch YouTube; will it kill them?
Will it give you respite to: retrieve your mind/spend some time on social media/read a book/have a hot cup of tea/etc?
Don’t forget, it’s your holiday too 😉
Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhausting keeping this kinda shizzle on the boil constantly, and I try to plan one thing for each day (even if it’s just ‘we’re having a DVD day’) so they know what the score is, but it is totally worth it to make sure we ALL enjoy the holidays, because, let’s face it, no one wants to hate on their kids, do they?
And it also means that when I get one of my little darlings asking me to play a game/read a book/entertain them ONE MORE TIME, I can say ‘No, do something yourself’ and not feel guilty.
NB packed lunches and a backpack are essential equipment, as are a change of clothes for the Little People.
How do you entertain your kids? Are you a lover or a loather?
Please share if you have any parenting-through-the-holidays-hacks I’ve missed, I’m not quite as perfect as this blog post appears to make me!